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The Yanomami of The Amazon

The Yanomami of the Amazon.

   The Yanomami people live in the Amazon forest between Venezuela and brazil. They live in the tropical forest far away from other people. There are about 20,000 of them in 200 villages. Before scientists visited them, they knew nothing about other people in South America, about the government, or about modern life. They did not know they lived in Brazil or Venezuela. They lived in their own world.

   The Yanomami were Stone Age people. They used stone tools. They had stone axes for cutting. They used bamboo knives. They are bananas and palm fruit and hunted animals. Sometimes they are frogs and insects. They wore a few leaves for clothes.

   Then government officials and scientists started to visit them often. They were studying the Yanomami for an unusual reason. The Yanomami are some of the most violent people on earth. They kill each other often. They get angry quickly and stay angry for years. They hit their enemies with long sticks. Their villages are usually at war. Scientists want to know why humans make war. Other groups of people live together and do not make war. Why are the Yanomami so violent?

   Now the lives of the Yanomami are changing very fast. Visitors from the modern world are teaching them to eat different kinds of food with salt and fat. This food makes the Yanomami sick. It is bad for them. Now they make war on other villages with metal knives and guns. They have cloth now. Every time they get something new, they want more modern things. However, the modern things are killing the Yanomami. New diseases are killing them. Modern companies mined for gold. They cut down trees in the forest for wood. They also killed Yanomami. In 1991 Brazil and Venezuela made the Yanomami land into a park. No one can mine for gold or cut trees on this land. The governments want to save the Yanomami.

   The Yanomami are learning many new things for the rest of the world. If we study them, we can learn something, too. Perhaps we have something more important to learn than to teach.

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